Demand outpaces provide in Sullivan for COVID-19 vaccine | Well being Care

BLOUNTVILLE – If you are a Sullivan County resident and you are over 75 or otherwise eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine (see the list below), your best bet is to go to the Sullivan County Health Department in Blountville.

The eligibility pool for the age group over 75, a decision made at the state level and published over the New Year holidays, overloaded and disabled the phone lines for the Sullivan County’s regional health department on Monday. The department also ran out of vaccine.

It has secured more – and is still looking for more.

Department head Gary Mayes told Times News that the department’s contractor was working on his phone system Monday afternoon and evening to try to get service back on Tuesday morning. But that wasn’t certain.

According to Mayes, the system received more than 73,000 incoming calls between 7:30 a.m. and approximately 4:30 p.m. on Monday. For the prospect, the health department received just over 100,000 incoming calls for the entire month of December, Mayes said.

“Our phone system broke down,” Mayes said. “Our salesman is desperately trying to fix it.”

Mayes said more than 400 doses of the vaccine were given on Monday, mostly to frontline medical professionals, but more than 75-year-olds managed to get the shot.

Mayes said it was “not inappropriate” for the public to want the vaccine as soon as possible.

“We have incredible demand,” said Mayes. “What is really positive is that citizens feel they have a safe and effective vaccine. The supply does not match the demand. It is distributed from the federal government to the state governments to the district governments. And we get a vaccine based on the population . That’s How we got our first doses. We’re desperate to get more vaccines because our demand in Sullivan County is very, very high. We weren’t offered how much vaccine you would like. We were told, ” this is the amount you’ll get based on your population. “And it turns out that our people in Sullivan County are very interested in getting the vaccine. That’s great. We just need more and more vaccines.”

The health department has been criticized by some on social media for currently only offering the vaccine at its Blountville location. According to Mayes, the division spent three months developing a vaccine distribution strategy based on CDC guidelines. This included a multi-phase rollout that was initially supposed to begin with frontline medical professionals and others – which would have been possible from one central location.

Members of the general population, broken down by age group, older to younger, should be eligible at a later stage based on state and federal guidelines in effect until last week.

The Department of Health’s long-term plan is not to be the only supplier of the vaccine, and it has always been planned to expand its distribution to locations across the county and within cities, Mayes said.

“This is the start of the early days,” Mayes said. “It’s a model we have with the state for giving a vaccine.”

While Mayes couldn’t say for sure that the phone system would be fixed by Tuesday morning, he was certain the department would have more vaccines. In his first interview with the Times News Monday afternoon, Mayes said he had a conference call with the state and would make more calls to get more vaccine, but it could be Wednesday or Thursday before one arrives. He later called back to say he was on his way to getting more vaccine thanks to Ballad Health, although he wasn’t sure how many doses there were yet.

Mayes said the 400-plus doses administered on Monday was the last of the 1,400 total doses the Sullivan County Regional Health Department has received since receiving the vaccine.

According to the state’s website, the first two phases of vaccine approval are expected to include 650,000 people nationwide (400,000 in 1a1 and 250,000 in 1a2).

Mayes said that given the uncertainty surrounding the phone situation, those eligible under phase 1a1 or 1a2 may want to come to the health department in person and the staff will try to deal with them as soon as possible. Once the phones are working, appointments can also be scheduled this way, as long as the vaccine supply is sufficient.

The health department published the following statement on social media at around 7.15 p.m. on Monday:

“We have received more vaccines and will be vaccinating 1a1 and 1a2 people and people 75 and over tomorrow through Friday this week from 9:00 am to 3:00 am while stocks last. This will be at the Blountville Health Center only department. No appointments are required. Phases 1a1 and 1a2 only include the people in the (lists) below. This is done via a drive through system. The entrance is on Massengill Road and turns onto Emergency Drive. Please follow the directions We strongly encourage everyone to stay in their vehicles and not get out of their cars to interact with others who have received vaccines. We also urge that individuals not stand in line to hold seats for others this will cause delays and disruptions. We will continue to update the public with information as soon as we receive it. Thank you for your patience and understanding is. “

In addition to persons over 75 years of age, during the current distribution phase (1a2 and including those authorized in 1a1), the following persons are eligible for the vaccine: Hospital / stand-alone emergency room staff with direct patient exposure and / or exposure to potentially infectious material; domestic health workers; Employees of the COVID-19 mass test center; student health care providers; Long-term care facility staff and residents; Qualified care facilities, assisted residential centers, old people’s homes, DIDD residential centers, group homes; First aiders with direct public exposure; People aged 18 and over who cannot live independently due to a serious chronic illness or a mental or developmental disability; First responders and staff; specialist outpatient providers and employees who work with acute patients; Pharmacists and staff; Patient transport; outpatient therapists; Urgent Visitor Center providers and staff; Environmental services; Oral health providers; Behavioral health providers; ambulatory laboratory staff working with COVID-19 samples; and funeral directors / morticians with direct contact.

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